A rough night for David Price and the Rays translated to a rough night for us on the blog, so let’s try to get back on the winning track tonight with a pair of picks.
Tonight’s Free Picks:
Detroit Tigers -102 at Texas Rangers -106 (Total: 7.5)
Justin Verlander (4-3, 1.93 ERA) vs. Yu Darvish (6-1, 2.73 ERA)
You can’t ask for a much better pitching matchup than this one; Verlander vs. Darvish pits two of the best teams in the American League and two of the best starting pitchers. Darvish has the better record, while Verlander has the better ERA. So who has the edge tonight?
I’m leaning toward the Rangers. Their lineup has been hitting better, they are at home, and despite a slightly higher ERA, Darvish has a much lower WHIP (0.91 to 1.21) and has had slightly better command of his pitches thus far in the young season. Much of the attention has gone to the Red Sox starters, namely Clay Bucholtz, but right now Darvish has to be considered a strong contender if not the favorite to start the All Star Game in New York.
If the game is low scoring and close, which is a decent assumption, the edge goes to the Rangers. They are 9-2 this season in one-run games while the Tigers are just 3-6. A lot of that comes down to bullpen strength, as close games between good teams often do, and the Rangers pen has an ERA nearly half a run lower.
Free Pick: Texas Rangers to WIN -106
Washington Nationals -137 at San Diego Padres +130 (Total: 7)
Stephen Strasburg (1-5, 3.17 ERA) vs. Edinson Volquez (3-3, 5.15 ERA)
Here’s an interesting stat. Stephen Strasburg’s first-inning struggles have been well documented. His overall numbers are not bad at all – certainly not bad considering the hype surrounding some of his “struggles.” There’s plenty of pitchers in MLB who’d be happy to carry a 3.10 ERA and a WHIP of 1.12. However, that 1-5 record looms large.
Here’s why his first inning struggles matter: The Nats are 16-2 this season when they score first. They are 5-17 when their opponents score first. That’s the difference between an .889 winning percentage and .227. Or more simply, its roughly the difference between 5-1 and the 1-5 with which Strasburg is currently saddled.
That makes San Diego an interesting value pick tonight at home at +130. The money will pour in on the Nationals side, citing Stras vs. ‘Volky’ as a mismatch, but if the Padres can dent the plate early, you have to like their chances.
I also like a few runs to cross the plate. I had this game pegged around 7.5 or 8, but you can get the OVER at just 7. I like the Padres for the value and the OVER tonight.
Free Pick: San Diego Padres to WIN +130 & Run TOTAL OVER 7